What’s More Important in a Summer Job – Money or Experience?


Summer is officially here – do you have your summer job yet? When the end of the school year winds down, students across Canada begin the tedious and often stressful process of applying for summer jobs, programs and internships. For many students, summer is the time to make the most amount of money possible, working 40+ hours a week in order to save up for their upcoming school year. For others, summer is the time to network and get experience in their chosen career fields, even if that means working for a company that barely pays them minimum wage.

So, which is the better choice? Is it better to work for a summer at an unfulfilling job knowing you’re making lots of money, or for a company that promises advancement opportunities, even if you’re barely making enough to support yourself? If you’re unsure, ask yourself the questions below before making a final decision.

What can your finances handle?

Don’t lie to yourself – can you really afford an entire summer of not making any extra money for the year ahead? If you can, that’s great! But if you can’t, you need to ask yourself if one summer is worth an entire school year of money stress. Explore other options too – maybe you can get a part-time job in the school year to earn a little extra cash, or you can sublet your apartment for the summer and move back in with your parents/downsize for a few months.

Will this opportunity come around again?

Is this position at your dream company? Is it a part of a program they run every summer for students? Or is this a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with a pioneer in your chosen field on a specialized project? If you know you’ll have the chance to seize this opportunity again in the future, it may be a good idea to put it off for a year while you earn some money.

Will one lead to future employment?

If you are grappling with whether to earn money or gain professional experience, you are probably already looking ahead to your future. So ask yourself if you see a future (whether it’s short-term or long-term) at either position and use that to help make a decision. Maybe the job where you earn a lot of money will be available during the school year as well, and you’ll be able to save up. Or maybe the job that offers professional experience has positions opening up soon, or some sort of hiring program. Think about your long-term goals.

Which one will make you happier?

As obvious as this one may be, it’s still an important thing to consider when trying to find a summer job. Look at the whole picture of both jobs – commute time, your coworkers, staff culture, working hours, time off, etc. Do you immediately think that one sounds better than the other? Does a long commute make a larger pay cheque worth it? How important are social events for you? You don’t want to end up at a job you know you’re going to hate just because you think it looks better on paper, or because you earn a lot of money. You will always have more opportunities in the future.

We hope that these tips will help you make the right choice. But even if not, don’t stress! Make all the mistakes now and learn from them. You’ll have the rest of your life to be serious and do what’s right. Allow yourself to do a little bit of what you want right now.